Defense continues its march toward IPv6

Defense continues its march toward IPv6

The Defense Department has completed a third round of testing for the department's migration to the next-generation IP.

The November tests simulated real-world traffic on the world's largest native IP Version 6 test bed to review quality of service, multicast capability and security. The Defense Information Systems Agency's Joint Interoperability Test Command at Fort Huachuca, Ariz., also tested voice over IPv6 for the first time.

The network, dubbed Moonv6, is a collaborative effort of the command, North American IPv6 Task Force and the University of New Hampshire's Interoperability Laboratory.

The current IPv4 has never been very secure and its address space is rapidly being exhausted, requiring administrators to find workarounds to connect new devices. IPv6 also will address the complications of using IP with mobile devices.

DOD in June of last year announced that it would make IPv6 a department standard by mid-2007.

Moonv6's developers say their test bed is the largest native IPv6 network. It has 80 servers from a variety of vendors and extends to eight military, academic and commercial sites'from New Hampshire to San Diego.

The military sites connected to Moonv6 are Fort Huachuca; the Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command West in San Diego; SPAWAR East in Charleston, S.C.; Scott Air Force Base, Ill.; Fort Monmouth, N.J.; and the Marine Corps Network Security Operations Center at Quantico, Va.

The most recent round of tests used equipment from Spirent Federal Systems Inc. of Yorba Linda, Calif., to simulate traffic.

The earlier two test periods focused on making the transition to the new protocols on legacy equipment, much of which does not have IPv6 implemented in the hardware.

'The tests showed you could do that,' said Jim Jordan, director of broadband for Spirent Federal.

The November tests looked at the ability of current DOD applications and equipment to interoperate when using IPv6 features. Traffic was generated using Spirent's SmartBits with three application cards: Smart Flow, Terarouting Tester and Avalance.

Smart Flow was used to test site-to-site quality of service across routers and switches. Terarouting tested multicast efficiency, and Avalance rated quality of service for layers 2 through 7. Spirent also provided testing equipment for the first voice over IPv6 tests, which involved sites at Fort Huachuca, Charleston and UNH in Durham, N.H.

The test team plans to present the results of the latest round to the Defense Information Systems Agency next month.

From earlier rounds of testing, 'what we're finding is that the network doesn't always do what you expect,' Jordan said. That puts a premium on structuring tests and configuring equipment, he said.

About the Author

William Jackson is a Maryland-based freelance writer.

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